“I’m afraid I can’t let you into Canada, Sean.”
I had been mentally toiling under the certainty of hearing these exact words for the last two months, preparing myself for the long drive north to end in a gigantic neon “NO” emblazoned across the the skyline at the U.S.- Canada border; but after a week and a half of tour, and a long ferry ride from the free American soil of Port Angeles, WA to my present confines in the Office of Border Patrol in Victoria, B.C, I had somehow convinced myself that I and my 2002 Subaru would slip unnoticed into the Great White North, where we would continue to spread our glum brand of music to the waiting throngs of bundled Canucks.
“It looks like you’ve had a little trouble with the Law.”
I didn’t want to test the point with this trimly outfitted Officer of the Department of Guarding Imaginary Lines, but technically, I had never had any trouble with the Law. Conversely, the Law had seen fit at one point on a dark morning of my youth to make trouble with me. I won’t go into the gritty specifics of the affair, I only maintain that had the cops involved simply followed my example and minded their own goddamned business for that brief moment, we would’ve all gone on living full and productive lives, sans incident.
“That was a very long time ago, uh, ‘Eric’”, I weakly protested, hoping that by reading his nameplate and injecting a little personal rapport, I could make him see me as a person, rather than an Illegal Object attempting some cross-border felonious villainy. I read about the technique somewhere, I think in a manual for kidnapping victims. Help your captor see a person; they might let you go alive.
“Yes, but you see, our records here in Canada go back quite a way. Let’s see here. It also looks like you gave your mother a bit of trouble during childbirth. Ooo. That’s no good either. We take the birthing process very seriously here, not like you do in the States; all willy-nilly!” Fucking Eric. At least he was polite, which raises the point- Eric, First Line of Defense for Canadian Security, was more kindly in his disposition than any American beat cop I have ever encountered. Even as he was rejecting me from entry, his ‘sorrys, pleases, and thank-yous’ never wavered in their sincerity. Compared to the AR-15-toting tobacco spitters that volunteer to line our south-western states, waiting for starving mothers to DARE crawl across the Sonoran Desert and into their crosshairs, Eric was a beacon of light. I considered that living indefinitely in this office with him and the other boys on the detail might not be too bad a time, after all. I think I saw doughnuts in the break room too, if Jeff hadn’t eaten them all by now. Ah, Jeff. You doughnut hound!
I had a single last resort. I looked shamefully down at my folded hands, hoping that my apologetic countenance would convince Eric that I had changed my ways; that Canada could expect nothing but the best from me- that I was a man reborn and fit for gentle society. I evinced this “I Have No Ties to Al-Qaeda, Eric. Please Let Me Come Drink Some Molson’s in Canada” vibe with my whole being.
Eric finally glanced up from my sin-tarnished passport.
“I’ll tell you what, Sean. I’m going to write you this special pass to let you come into Canada. I mean, you’ve come all this way. It’d be a shame to keep you from visiting our beautiful country.”, Eric smiled at me, as he handed my papers back across his desk. “Give me a moment to type up the form. Welcome to Canada.”
Just like that. I hadn’t even raised a protest worth noting, except with what I was hoping were appropriately mournful eyes. The ol’ Sorrowful-Puppy-Dog-Border-Crossing-Apology-Face gets ‘em every time. Eric, my man, rest your weary head. My trouble-causing days are over. Quick question: are those doughnuts for everyone? Thought so. I fucking love Canada, Eric. Thanks for everything.
I skipped joyously into the sunlight of British Columbia a free, international man.